Kimi Raikkonen threatens to strike over pay
Friday 01 November 2013
Kimi Raikkonen is threatening to go on strike unless Lotus fulfil their obligation to pay him more than £14 million. The 34-year-old was conspicuous by his absence during Thursday's media activities at the Yas Marina circuit but he arrived in time to take part in both practice sessions.
Relations between Raikkonen and his team soured earlier this season after he agreed to return to Ferrari from 2014 and matters came to a head in India last weekend when Raikkonen almost collided with team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Team principal Eric Boullier said he would talk to both drivers in Abu Dhabi over the incident, but suggestions that the relationship had broken down were further intensified by Raikkonen's late arrival in the United Arab Emirates.
After finishing fourth in second practice for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Raikkonen claimed his issues with the team had been settled for now but could not rule out missing the remaining races in the United States and Brazil.
"I came here only because hopefully we found an understanding on the certain issues we have been having," Raikkonen said. "Hopefully, it will be fixed and we can finish the season as well as we can."
Financially, this is a critical period for Lotus, as the team await vital new investment from Quantum Motorsports. This has been under discussion since June but has yet to be finalised, though the owner of Lotus, Mansoor Ijaz, is in Abu Dhabi and says the deal is imminent.
If it happens, team boss Boullier will sign the impressive Nico Hulkenberg, currently with Sauber. If not, the team will have to opt for Williams refugee Pastor Maldonado, the fast but erratic Venezuelan who brings a healthy budget from PDVSA, his national oil company.
Against this backdrop, a win for the black and gold team would be a massive and much-needed fillip, and if it's Grosjean at the wheel he would be the first Frenchman to triumph since Olivier Panis in Monaco in 1996.
He was one of the few Lotus people with a smile as he joked: "Now that Seb [Vettel] has the titles all tied up, it would be nice if he would let one of us win."
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